russian jet
© Russian Defense Ministry / Reuters
Russia's Defense Ministry has denied claims it carried out attacks on a civilian area in Aleppo's Qaterji district. The claims were made by Western media after video and pictures of a wounded five-year-old boy from the area emerged online.

"The critical plight that the children from eastern Aleppo districts are in - unwillingly taken hostage by terrorists - is surely a tragedy," said the official representative of the Russian Defense Ministry, Igor Konashenkov.

He criticized certain Western media for the "cynical use of this tragedy in anti-Russian propaganda material," calling it a "moral crime."

"We have repeatedly stressed that the Russian Air Force planes operating in Syria never work on targets within residential areas," Konashenkov said.

"It is all the more relevant regarding al-Qaterji, mentioned by the Western media, as it is adjacent to the exit corridors for locals which were opened in the framework of the Russian humanitarian mission," he added, as quoted in a Defense Ministry press release.

Russian monitoring groups have noted daily terrorist strikes in the area, conducted using makeshift artillery mounts. The terrorists, the Russian humanitarian mission says, "target roads, streets, and residential buildings in the close proximity of the humanitarian passages."

"It is done to disrupt any attempts to receive medical and other kinds of aid for eastern Aleppo residents, who are basically terrorist hostages now.

"The nature of the debris shown by Western broadcasters during the operation to save [the wounded boy, Omran Daqneesh] demonstrates that there are intact windows in a building nearby, and this in turn shows that the strike, if it happened, was carried out not using aircraft ammunition but a mine or a gas cylinder, which are commonly used by terrorists," Konashenkov also said.

The Russian statement comes a day after images of an ash-covered boy who survived an airstrike in Syria spread online. The video showed the boy, named as Omran Daqneesh, being rescued from a ruined building in Aleppo.

Around two weeks ago, Russia and Syria began a large-scale operation to open special exit corridors in Aleppo for civilians and those ready to lay down their arms.

On Thursday, the Russian Defense Ministry backed a proposal from the UN Syria envoy to carry out 48-hour weekly ceasefires to deliver humanitarian relief to Aleppo residents. The first truce could be held next week.